DALLAS — Rising food and fuel costs have impacted the number of times consumers visit supermarkets on a weekly basis, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s “Grocery Shopper Trends 2011” report. The number of trips consumers made to buy groceries declined to 1.69 trips per week, the lowest level in the history of the annual F.M.I. report. People shopping for groceries only once per week rose from 29% to 34% between 2010 and 2011, and those shopping once every other week increased 8 percentage points to 20%.

The F.M.I. survey found that while consumers are interested in nutrition, economic worries are complicating their ability to make healthy choices when deciding what to eat. Thirty-nine per cent of shoppers claimed to be “very” concerned about eating healthfully, down from 45% in 2010. Only 44% said they incorporate at least one healthy food into their diet.

An overwhelming 90% said they believed home-cooked meals are healthier and more affordable than eating out. The vast majority of shoppers said they are responsible for ensuring that the food they eat is nutritious.
The survey also showed that consumer confidence in food safety was at its highest point in seven years, with 88% of those surveyed saying they are “completely” or “somewhat” confident in the safety of food at the supermarket.

When asked where they believe food safety breaches occur, more than half of shoppers named food processing and manufacturing plants. However, when respondents were asked who is responsible for ensuring food safety, 58% said they are responsible for the safety of their food, up 7 percentage points from 2010. Next on the list were manufacturers and processors at 35%, followed by supermarkets and government agencies at 28%.

The F.M.I. survey also showed strong demand for locally grown products, with 8 in 10 of the survey respondents saying they purchase local products occasionally. Forty-four per cent of consumers said state lines determined what they consider to be a “local” product, and another 41% defined local as being produced within the boundaries of a certain mileage distance from where they live.